The Way of the Cross

WHAT: an art exhibit based on the 14 stations of the cross and led by music and story audio recording

WHERE: Edmonds Church of God 8224 220th Street Southwest  Edmonds, WA 98026

WHEN: Holy Week – Tuesday April 3, Wednesday April 4, Thursday April 5, 5-8pm

COST: Free

“This was truly an incredible experience that fed my soul and was just what I needed as my heart is getting ready for Easter.  Thank you! Thank you!” – Way of the Cross Participant

*Some content may not be suitable for young children. Parent’s discretion advised.

“Mended” : An Easter Proclamation

Julian of Norwich, 14 century Christian mystic, famously said, “All shall be well. All shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.”

I love this quote, but I got to thinking about it.  Isn’t it pretty much nothing more than blind optimism?  Just a poetic way of saying, ’everything works itself out in the end.’  That can’t be what she meant.  I got curious about the context of this quote and I found this profound statement that precedes it.  Julian of Norwich said, “The worst conceivable thing has happened, and it has been mended…”  Here’s what I think she means by, “the worst conceivable thing has happen”: I, and all those that I love, are in terrible, threatening trouble, because our fear has turned us in upon ourselves, isolating us from our God and from each other.

But that’s not the worst conceivable thing that could happen.  The worst conceivable thing that could happen is that God, the Creator of the universe, out of God’s reckless love for us, comes to rescue us from our terrible, threatening trouble, but instead of receiving God’s help, we kill God!  We kill our only possible hope!  Now this is the absolute worst thing that can be conceived of!  That’s it.  There’s nothing after that.  And that has happened.

Whenever I am feeling really anxious and I want to put my situation into perspective I try to imagine the worst conceivable end to my dilemma and usually I come to the conclusion, “Okay.  I can live with that.”  And then my anxiety becomes a little more manageable and I can get back to dealing with my problem.  But if the end that I come to is that I have destroyed my only hope, that’s not good.  My anxiety is no longer manageable!  I have to either utterly despair or spend my life trying to forget my situation.

But what I forget is this: The only place where resurrection occurs is death.  And ‘there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.’  The only place where resurrection occurs is in all dead.

“The worst conceivable thing has happened, and it has been mended.”

Our hope is no longer that the worst conceivable thing will not happen.  Rather, our hope is in the One who has already mended the worst that ever could happen.  This is the great mystery of our faith, that God took the very worst that we could do and somehow transformed it into our salvation instead of our condemnation. A complete reversal.  Do you know what this means!?!?  If that can end well, surely all things can end well.  The love of God cannot be stopped.

It’s from this conclusion that Julian of Norwich can then say: “….It has been mended so that the end of everything shall be well. I say again, all manner of things shall end well.” There is absolutely nothing that cannot be redeemed.  There is no story that cannot end well, if it is tied up in this great story.  No marriage, no disease, no financial crisis, no war, no epidemic, no broken relationship, not even death itself cannot end well!

Here is how St. Paul puts it:  “If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?  And who would dare even to point a finger at us when the One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us?  There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture could do that! I’m absolutely convinced that nothing! —nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus has embraced us.”

So now, what if!?   What if we were convinced of this?  Allow yourself to dream a bit. What if we were convinced of Christ’s resurrection?  Not in a “once upon a time” or a “off in the distant future” way.  Not in a “Let’s try to prove this in a court of law” kind-of way, but in a relational way that clings to the promise of Jesus that your story is mended and ends well and you are living it right now.  How would your life be different tomorrow morning?

Peter Rollins, an author-pastor-theologian from Belfast Ireland, was on a book tour when he was asked if he, in fact, denied the resurrection of Christ.  To this he said: “Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think.  I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.  However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.

How would might your life affirm Jesus’ resurrection?  The Jesus movement of the early Church would have had no traction, what-so-ever, were it not for the resurrection of Jesus.  It would have simply been an unnoticed blip on the radar of history. But the only way for St. Stephen to say, “Father, forgive them”, while men surrounded him and threw stones at him till he died was for the one who first said those words from the cross to be alive and filling his followers with a death defying life.

So – “if you have ever believed that love inevitably leads to betrayal this morning says it doesn’t. If you have ever believed that some people are unloveable, irredeemable this morning says they aren’t. If you have ever believed that there is a limit to forgiveness this morning says there isn’t. If you have ever believed you aren’t worth saving this morning says you are. If you have ever believed that fear, anger, hate and despair will always win this morning says they won’t.”  Therefore, welcome to the feast of all mending – This is feast is for you.

PROJECT: Resurrection Insurrection

Christ is Alive, Sabotaging Death & Conspiring Life

Here’s what we’ve noticed:  We have really high ideals about participating with what God is doing in the world to bring “Shalom”, bringing about justice in the world, fostering reconciliation, serving our community… And yet, we are typically far too busy to live out what we know Jesus is calling us to.  So, let this Easter start a sea change in us.  Join the insurrection by executing acts of Justice, Compassion & Service throughout the season of Easter April 24 – June 12.  Here are three suggestions we are proposing:

  • Do what you care about: Inevitably, the risen Christ has written specific passions into your life… sometimes through tragedy, sometimes giftedness, usually through a combination of both.
  • Do it together:  God is calling us to collaboration, not lone-rangering, therefore: 1) ask some people in our community to participate with you.  Maybe it’s someone in your small group, or your family, or folks you’ve wanted to hang out with for a while, but haven’t had a chance to meet.  And 2) find out who (organizations, individuals) is already on the ground doing the work you want to do and join them in it.  It’s likely they have a much better grasp of what’s needed and could use the help!
  • Share it with the rest of us:  We want to celebrate all the ways the Risen Christ is cultivating life around us, so tell us about it!  We will be creating a collage each week at Beloved’s 5pm worship, so bring photographs, journal entries, written stories and keep sakes to add to the station so that everyone can see it and give thanks.  In addition, if you’ve got a story or photo feel free to post it in the comments on this page or on our face book site to share it with our larger community.

This could look like a bajillion different things:  doing a clean up project at the neglected and abused Halls Lake Park right behind Rosewood, volunteer at Vision House Shoreline, sort donations for the Edmonds Food Bank, invite a lonely neighbor over for dinner, work with Chelle from Beloved to create walking maps for Edmonds… the list could go on and on.

Christ is Risen Indeed, trampling death by death, and the Spirit is loose in the world… let us follow this wild Goose where ever she might lead!

Easter Benediction

MATT: If Christ is risen, then spring is possible in all the cold hard places gripped by winter

ALL: And freedom cuts in line to take fear’s place in our focus

MATT: If Christ is risen, then our future is an epic novel where once it was a mere short story
ALL: and our stories are intertwined with the Story of God.
MATT: If Christ is risen, then healing is on order and assured
ALL: And every disability will bow before the endless dance of Christ’s ability
MATT: If Christ is risen, then our graves will also open when life is restored
ALL: For these frail and fragile bodies will not be the final word on our condition
MATT: If Christ is risen, then hunger will go begging in the streets for want of a home
ALL: And selfishness will have a shortened shelf-life
MATT: If Christ is risen, then we will dance on the callous grave of war
ALL: And poverty will be history in our history

MATT: Therefore, our hearts hear hope like a whisper on the wind
And the song that rises in us will not be silenced
As life disrupts this shadowed place of death
And death itself runs terrified to hide
Because Christ is risen!

ALL: Christ is risen Indeed!